To What Extent Does a Feminist Reading of “Mrs Rip Van Winkle” by Carol Ann Duffy Help the Reader to Interpret the Text?

To what extent does a feminist reading of “Mrs Rip Van Winkle” by Carol Ann Duffy help the reader to interpret the text?

One of the aims of a feminist interpretation is to examine women’s social roles, in many a case examining the “power relations with a view to breaking them down, showing the extent of patriarchy.” “Mrs Rip Van Winkle” is a poem from Carol Ann Duffy’s book titled The World’s Wife: a collection of poems that take on a feminist perspective, subverting characters stories, histories and myths and focusing on men while presenting them anew to look back at women who were previously obscured behind them. In her revision of Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle,” Duffy’s poem reflects the hibernation her husband undergoes, similar to Rip Van Winkle after he passes out from drinking, awaking again 20 years later. This may bring the assumption that her husband is an alcoholic; giving a possible theory to his long rests. Marriage vs. Self-identity: this poem questions the expected boundaries of a normal relationship, in which we see a heterosexual marriage put under pressure due to the patriarchal expectations of society, questioning the very notion of marriage as fruitful and long-lasting. The poem seems to show the gulf widening between them as her husband sinks into his endless sleep, and we follow Mrs Rip Van Winkle's escape as she indulging in interests such as painting and travelling; hobbies she cannot enjoy in her husband’s wake, but all told with an underlying bleakness. She finds beauty and peace in solitary activities, however in the end she must always return to her husband who is “rattling Viagra” as soon as he awakes. Ending on this note depressingly emphasises her return to her submissive role as she re-enters the status quo, despite her “none-too-fond” view of sex.
The poem begins by foregrounding the submissive role of Mrs. Rip Van Winkle, where the life she has endured up to this point could be seen as having imprisoned her: the simile...